44 Days: Could SBNY generate ... $0?

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
12:00
PM ET
Nickel Under MicroscopeAP Photo/Kristoffer TripplaarAs the Big Apple gets set for the Super Bowl ... every nickel counts!
Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 44 days until the Super Bowl.

The organizers say Super Bowl 48 should bring between $500 and $600 million to the New York and New Jersey region. That number is based on the amount of economic activity they expect to be generated as a result of people coming to the area to attend the game and the festivities preceding it.

But is that number real?

Economist Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College said the NFL generally posits $500 million when promoting the game to an area, but he and his fellow economists have never found hard evidence that it’s close to accurate.

“The conclusions usually move the decimal point to the left,” Zimbalist said. "Somewhere between $0 and $50 million."

That's quite a discrepancy.

[+] EnlargeMetlife
AP Photo/Peter MorganWhat could be more fun than hanging out in East Rutherford in February?
Zimbalist said some of the economic activity generated by the game doesn’t create new tourism, but it replaces the visitors who would come to the city otherwise. When that’s a warm-weather city, Super Bowl visitors might replace the beach-goers, sailors and foodies that head to places like Miami or Arizona during the winter months.

Even though the Super Bowl has generated some activity in the past, it may not in New York.

“There’s always the hope that surrounding businesses are going to benefit, but East Rutherford is a desert,” Zimbalist said.

On the day of the game, the only event that will be held at MetLife Stadium, ticket holders will not be able to walk to the game, cutting down the opportunity for fans to patronize an East Rutherford spot on the way in. Instead, fans must take a special $51 “Fan Express” bus, New Jersey Transit train to MetLife or have one of 12,000 parking passes ($150) for the game.

The Super Bowl may bring additional costs to the region as well. The New Jersey Department of Transportation plans to go to emergency staffing levels on Super Bowl Sunday, and additional train schedules are being implemented for Super Bowl weekend. Additional police or security needed for the game will have to be paid for by someone, and Zimbalist said the public generally absorbs those costs.

As for the game itself, there are financial reasons the game could be held outdoors in a cold-weather city for the first time ever. It could be a reward for the Giants and Jets for building a stadium with private funds in a metropolitan area.

Plenty of cities offer cash and tax incentives to teams in order for them to build stadiums, but not in New York and New Jersey. There are simply too many teams and corporate headquarters in the area for the city to give away money.

Although teams have been able to bring train stations or other improvements in public infrastructure in conjunction with a new stadium, the actual building is generally paid for with private funds. The Jets and Giants paid $1.5 billion to build MetLife Stadium.

A month after the doors opened, they were rewarded with a Super Bowl.

Come back daily for more on the issues, logistics and personalities surrounding Super Bowl XLVIII.
Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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